Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sophia becomes an American citizen!

Very late on Sunday, we landed in Chicago. We went through immigration and Sophia became an American citizen! A three hour drive later, we found ourselves in Michigan into the welcoming arms of Kat's side of the family. They were thrilled to meet Sophia and given the 12 hour time difference, she was awake enough to entertain and charm them.

Some 36 hours later, we are all struggling to get adjusted to a time zone that is, quite literally, half way round the world from where we have been. We are all a little foggy, cranky and prone to zoning out for several hours at a time. To her credit, so far, Sophia has been doing her best to adapt to the bright globe in the sky that beckons her to stay awake when every cell in her being wants to sleep.

This morning, Sophia had a doctors visit today that went well. The doctor confirmed what we had long suspected, she has a moderate ear infection, poor sweetheart.

Not surprisingly, her weight and height are only in the 5th percentile on the American charts, but the doctor felt that she was well within her developmental milestones, motor skill wise. I nearly cried when they gave Sophia her vaccinations. She cried and wailed and the look of indignation and hurt on her face was painful to watch.

In the meantime, Sophia has managed to utterly charm her Nana and Oompa (Kat's parents choice of endearments). Sophia has them wrapped around her pinky finger and she is quite besotted with them as well. So far, she has been fairly relaxed around the dogs. Marz is delighted to have her in the house but Skye seems to be withholding judgment.

A special thanks to my Mom for babysitting the dogs for the past three weeks. I know it wasn't always easy or convenient, but it truly was appreciated.

Another round of thanks to all our friends and family who monitored our blogs and posted such lovely comments throughout our journey. Unfortunately, the comment section of our blog doesn't always let us to respond to your comments and we didn't want you to think we had been ignoring you.

Last night, I showed Sophia her blog for the first time. She intently observed the photos of herself but squealed with happiness when she came across pictures of her traveling buddies as well as pictures of Mom and Dad. It was amazing to watch her immediate recognition and delight.

In many ways the journey has seemed long and arduous, and yet, in truth, we realize that the journey has really just begun.

Sophia with her Oompa

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Last post from Guangzhou

Sophia's bags are packed and she is ready to go

Tonight our internet access in our room expires, so I figured I would try to get in one last post before we go to Hong Kong. I am hoping I have enough time after the dinner party to get this posted before our computer turns into a figurative pumpkin.

Mother turtle and her offspring. I made Colin take a picture of this because some how I could relate.

All dressed up for a big night on the town....

Our date with Tuesday, Kimberley and Chris

Megan, Joe and Twilight

Some of the girls from prior adoptions

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

One more day

In some ways it is hard to believe we are only in Guangzhou for one more day. Then we are on our way to Hong Kong, where we have to stay two nights and then on home, YEAH!

I will miss the people we have traveled with and whom we have gone through this incredibly intense experience. I will miss the wonderful massages. I will miss having my laundry done for me. I will miss having the domestic duties taken care of by someone else.

I won't miss the bed that feels like the mattress is made out of plywood. I won't miss the food. I won't miss the humidity or the constant rain.

I will look forward to sleeping in our own bed. I will look forward to hugging my Mom and petting our dogs and riding my horse. I will look forward to fixing my own food and getting Sophia settled into her life with us.

I don't look forward to a 14 hour plus plane ride with an infant. I don't look forward to Colin having to go back to work right away. I don't look forward to the jet lag. I don't look forward to trying to integrate the dogs with Sophia. I don't look forward to having to do the laundry or cleaning the house. Most of all, I don't look forward to having Sophia missing her Daddy when he is at work. Come to think of it, I am going to miss him to.

So it is a mixed bag all together, as are most things in life. You take the good with the bad and look for the things that make it all worthwhile. Like seeing your daughter's face light up when you walk into the room, or hearing the bursts of giggles when you do something silly. Or watching her learn something new for the first time. Or watch her face change expressions when she tries new foods (except peas of course). Like watching your daughter cuddle with her father and see how tenderly he holds her. These are the things that make it all worthwhile. I sometimes can't quite believe that I almost missed it because for the longest time, I did not want children. Of course, that was before I met Colin, then everything changed because I knew he would be an amazing Father, and I was right.

To all the families who we met on this trip, safe travels home and I certainly hope our paths cross again. To all the families waiting, it is worth the wait, through all its anguish and disappointment, it is worth it.

To our families, please meet our newest member, Sophia Mingci. We can't wait until you see her in person!

Dad's first solo day with Sophia

Colin wrote another poem. I think it is worth reading. It is a few posts down as he wrote it several days ago but was too shy to post it.

P.E. at a Guangzhou Elementary School

Colin had his first solo outing with Sophia today. Our agency managed to arrange a visit of a local Guangzhou Elementary school. Kat was exhausted so she wimped out and stayed at the hotel to take a much needed nap.

Everyone was very impressed with the children and the schools. The children apparently start to attend at the age of 6 and go a mandatory 9 years. After that, they test to see if they qualify for additional education. Most of the children practiced their English. There was a question and answer session where our group asked them questions and the children, in turn, asked our group questions.

Dads' day out.

"I'm ready for my close-up"

Sophia chills with her mei mei, Tuesday

After resisting sleep, Sophia is placed in her crib, under arrest

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lessons learned

My wonderful friend and co-traveler/new Mom, Kimberley pointed out to me that I had not posted many close-ups of Sophia. She is right and I am aim to correct that oversight!

Kimberley and Tuesday

Kisses from Dad.

Sophia playing with Mom's hat - we can't seem to get her to wear anything on her head.

There are many lessons new parents need to learn. Last night, I learned one of them. Never, Never, Never feed your baby too many new foods in the same day, especially if they are mostly vegetables and your baby is not accustomed to eating veggies. Note to self: introduce only one new food at a time, don't let her eat 10 spoonfuls of the that food, and if one dares to commit such a blunder, have plenty of Mylicon on hand.

The consequence of the aforementioned stupidity? 2.5 hours of non-stop blood curdling screaming related to gas and indigestion issues. 2.5 hours of us being completely unable to console Sophia and have her beat us senseless as she thrashed around. 50 Baby wipes consumed and 3 diapers full of diahrea. And AT LEAST one whole day of a very cranky little girl.

Needless to say, Sophia had a very bland, non-fiber, diet today and will likely stay on that diet until we return to the States.

Today was filled with lots of paperwork for Colin (he has the neat hand writing, poor sod). After getting very little sleep (from Kat's aforementioned faux pas)and fighting a cold he picked up from Sophia (he awoke drenched in sweat this morning), he was not really feeling well after sitting 3 hours in a stuffy room, but he soldiered on and saw to it that our paperwork was completed. Norman and the China Team checked it all out and hopefully we will receive her VISA without delay on Friday.

Tonight we took Sophia to the Rooftop Lounge with Kelly, Bill and Janey. A local trio decided to treat the girls to their rendition of 'Que Sera Sera' and 'In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight' (I can't remember what the correct name for the song is). Both girls loved it! Sophia was transfixed by the music and couldn't quite believe that she was hearing music, live. I can't wait to have my parents play for her, she is going to love it. My only regret is that we didn't have a camera with us because the picture of Sophia dancing with her Dad was priceless.

Afterward, Kimberely and I headed to the Reflexology center for a heavenly massage. OK, it was also painful, but still felt great (at the end anyway).

The streets of Guangzhou

Monday, May 22, 2006

Colin's poem for the group

NO WORDS can explain
From her first father and mother
Little girl in our arms
Kisses hugs we smother.

The feeling of completeness
overwhelming joy she brings
Showing us new life
Amazement of all things.

Smiles, laughter, cries
We love them all
Giving her our best
Together we learn to crawl.

NO WORDS can thank the group enough
For the great memories we'll all take
The morning breakfast, shopping, walks
Dinners with grub, frog, and snake.

Our lives linked forever
Our daughters their sisters
Growing up their separate ways
Forever fellow cribsters.

The red thread
Which now connects the group
Sharing all and everything
From first crawls and first poop.

NO WORDS can xshie xshie enough Norman
And your US and China team
The way we all look at our daughters
Our thanks the way we beam.

Paperwork, appointments, traveling
Helping every step of the way
Sincerely we give our thanks
Every moment of every day.

One or two more times for us
Our Guangzhou paths will cross again
We wish USAA smooth roads
And best wishes until then.

So a toast to all our new found family
And to the children brought together
United we will be
For the red thread we'll hold FOREVER!

More photos

I am having difficulty downloading more than a few photos on each post, and I wanted to add some more, so creating a new post was the best way to go. Now blogger has suddenly decided to cooperate and look how many made it to this post!

Sophia gets checked out by the doctor and none to happy about it either.

Relaxing after the medical and shopping till we dropped.

Sophia chillin' in her stroller

Crawling at warp speed

Teething in Dad's arms

"Hey Dad, since Mom is a cop, I think I had better get used to donuts"

Sunday, May 21, 2006

1st Week Anniversary!

Kimberley, Norman and Kat toasting our daughters at the pizza party last night

Today it has been one week since Gotcha Day. The babies went to get their medical check up required by the US Consulate. Sophia checked OK and has apparently gained some much needed weight. Not totally shocking to us as she has been eating like a horse in the past several days and we have noticed that her belly has been starting to get nice and round. Hopefully she will start to sprout upward as well. She still onlly fit in 3-6 or 6 month clothing, 6-9 or 9 month (especially pants) just hang off the peanut.

Then it was off to Shamian Island for some good old souvenier shopping. We went a little wild and bought a huge bagful of things. Mostly shoes for when she is older. They are the 'squeaky' shoes but mercifully the shop keeper showed us how to disable them since they are cute for the first 10 steps and then just plain irritating! We also got her two traditional Chinese outfits.

Sophia was really relaxed and easygoing while we shopped. We brought a 'hip hammock' which is going to be great when she gets a little bigger but is just to big for her right now. Other than the stroller (which she isn't that fond of), we end up carrying her everywhere without the benefit of a snuggly or carrier. Since she is so squirmy, this can prove to be very challenging at times. Today, while we shopped, she was a trooper. Not one squirm or wiggle to be had. She just showed keen interest in what we were buying her and spent a lot of time observing her surroundings.

Shamian Island

Sophia, Meison and Julia hang out while waiting for their physical

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Blessing Day

"Watson, I think we found a clue"

Sophia meets a local

Yesterday all the families that had been in another province returned to Guangzhou. We all went to a Buddhist Temple to have the babies blessed. Despite the fact it was raining, it was nice to see everyone again and the babies are absolutely beautiful. Congratulations to everyone. Tonight, we get together for a pizza party, hurray!

Sophia seemed to be feeling better this morning. Translation: she was not crying or screaming :) She seems to want to have her bottle every three hours. We probably shouldn't be starting that trend, but for now, we have just been going with it. She is so active that I think she just needs the calories to keep up with herself and she gets very cranky when her fuel runs low.

In regard to her activity level, it is really high! I've taken to also calling her squirmy wormy, wiggles, and squiggly wiggly. Several of the families got together and ordered room service last night. All the babies were on the floor playing and there were some amazing photo ops, unfortunately we forgot our camera card. It was the first time that Sophia stuck close to us. Kat sat on the floor with her and she mostly just stayed in Kat's lap, or very close by. It was probably the most relaxed we have seen her. She seemed to be taking in the whole scene and curious about what other babies were doing. She proved to very adept at taking the other girls toys without being the least bit contrite.

Later the same day:
Tonight was pizza party night. We had the opportunity to see all the families and thank Norman, the Director of the orphanage and the China Team for uniting us with wonderful Sophia. It was almost unbelievable to see all the pictures that had been posted around the room of families that have gone before us and all the update photos sent by the families. The little girls grow into young women...seems to happen overnight.

Thanks to Sophia's birth parents, the Zhanjiang SWI, Norman and the China Team for all that you have given us. Colin and I arrived as family of two and will be leaving China as a family of three. There are really no words to express the gratitude that we feel.

Side note:
I know this may seem completely off the track of our blog and our current thoughts, but as horse lovers, it makes sense. So, on a COMPLETELY unrelated note, Colin and I are keeping the racehorse, Barbaro, in our thoughts and prayers. Reading that he had been so horrendously injured in yesterdays race, was very upsetting to us and such a tragic ending to such a promising young horse.

Ups and Downs Day

Karate practice

Sophia's passport arrives

A day that started out great, then not so great as Sophia is cutting some teeth and was inconsable for a few hours. Then a great day as she got to play with her fellow cribsters in Kiddie Land and at Bill and Kellys' room as a few families got together for room service and play time with the wonderfull babies.